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Why I am engaged this time

March 11, 2016
In a recent Facebook exchange, a friend noted that it was clear that I don’t like Donald Trump. Here is my slightly edited reply. (I should note for people who don’t know me that I have always voted Republican.)

This isn’t simply a matter of disliking Trump. I’ll say it plainly: I’m afraid of a Trump presidency. I don’t like politics; I try to avoid the subject. I’ve never been engaged as I have this election season. And I am now because, while the thought of a Clinton presidency is depressing, the thought of a Trump one is scary.

Short of some radical conversion on her part, I could never in good conscience vote for Hilary Clinton. But at least I think people know what they’d get from her as president: four more Obama years. With Trump, no one knows for sure. Why don’t his voters notice his flip-flopping on policies? Why do they believe what he says now?
But while we don’t know for sure what he’ll do, we do know his authoritarian attitude (military leaders will commit war crimes if he tells them to; Mexico will pay for the wall). We know that he believes he is superior to everyone else in America, maybe everyone who walks the earth. People who think that way and think they are above the law are loose cannons. He’s going to change the way things are by negotiating, as long as things go his way, or on his own, if they don’t. Apparently, Trump thinks of everyone else as his future employees who will do what the boss says.
Things come up during a presidency that can’t be foreseen. We have to trust in the character of the president, that he or she will deal responsibly with such eventualities. How can anyone trust a man who believes everything he does is great, despite the evidence against that, and that everyone loves him, which obviously is untrue? I’ll say it again, Donald Trump a delusional egomaniac. Can such a person be trusted in such an important position? It scares me, truly. We don’t like bleeding heart liberals meddling in our lives. We wouldn’t like ham-fisted conservatives doing it either. In hard times, people will vote into office strong authoritarian figures to make things right. The history of the twentieth-century shows that that doesn’t always go well, especially when such leaders believe themselves above the law.
I’ve tried to figure out why people support Trump despite all the evidence against his suitability. The only thing I’ve come up with is his supreme self-confidence. It isn’t his conservatism; Cruz beats him on that. It isn’t his record; that’s a muddle. It isn’t that he’s an “outsider” (Cruz; Carson). It’s his demeanor. We’ve seen how he manages the stage at debates. He shushes other candidates and talks down to them like a parent talking to children and says repeatedly how stupid and incompetent everyone is. I don’t think this is an act to help win debates; he really does think he is superior to everyone. And if this were an act, in keeping with his business strategies in “The Art of the Deal,” how could we ever know whether he’s saying what he really thinks or is just engaging in manipulative marketing? No, he is supremely confident, and that confidence gives voters themselves confidence (40% of them or so, anyway). They can’t be confident that he’s going to do certain things, because no one knows. He could turn out to be the Democrat that Clinton has said he is. But that’s okay. He is supremely confident, and he makes people feel confident.
Honestly, I don’t know which is scarier: Trump as president, or the fact that so many people want him to be president. I still think he won’t be, even if he wins the Republican nomination. His 40% of Republicans (or thereabouts) won’t be enough to win over a significant number of Democrats (and I’m being generous there) or the moderates of whichever party. Which way the other 60% of Republicans would vote is uncertain (I think a Trump/Clinton election could result in the lowest voters turnout ever). As I’ve pointed out before, President Obama won not just one but two elections. Trump is not going to win over the nation. If he does, things are even worse than I think they are.
  1. I agree with you and also don’t believe Trump could win a general election. I do think his popularity is an important kind of wake-up call though. We Americans don’t like admitting that right underneath our charity and sense of fair play there is still (perhaps always) a current of such violence, racism, fear and xenophobia. It’s humanity’s dark side, and it doesn’t go away just because we are in denial about it.

  2. Rick Wade permalink

    When our presidents in their State of the Union addresses finish by saying “God bless America,” I wonder if they are thinking God ought to bless us because we’re so wonderful or if they are praying for grace. I tend to think it is the former, when it is the latter we need.

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